Coming soon from Yahoo: Personalized mobile content platform

Say what you will about Yahoo, but I’ve always liked that they’ve generally realized the value of reaching out to feature phone users — who, according to ComScore’s latest numbers, still comprise three quarters of the current US mobile market.

For instance, Yahoo apparently has deals with many wireless carriers to have its mobile offerings listed in the default menu options for feature phone web browsers. This generates a lot of traffic to Yahoo News — and in turn, to lots of news sites.

Now they’re cooking up something else that should interest news and content publishers who are considering their mobile strategy. Today on the Knight Digital Media Center site, I wrote:

Yahoo to launch personalized mobile content platform

The bottom line for news orgs:

Feature phone users are especially likely to desire content personalization, given the difficulty of navigating and searching web sites from those devices. If this Yahoo platform makes that easier for consumers, and if Yahoo offers some fair revenue opportunities for news publishers, then a platform like this might be a useful complement to a news organization’s own direct mobile offerings.

Yeah, I know at Mobile World Congress next week, Yahoo’s official announcement will make this sound like it’s all about smartphones and tablets. But I hope some people will be asking about how this platform will work with Yahoo’s mobile web offerings — and whether it will include support for Javascript-based apps that can run on many feature phones.

The business side of my new neighborhood

A few months ago I moved into the edge of Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, near the Piemont and Pill Hill districts. It’s a really interesting part of town — but I’ve been puzzled why the nearby stretch of 40th St. has seemed kinda semi-vacant and lackluster.

Over on OaklandLocal, I just published a story where I interviewed the entrepreneurial co-owners of a new restaurant opening just around the corner from me.

See: Homeroom opens next week: Could mac & cheese revitalize 40th St.?

That interview shed some interesting light on the local situation for small businesses, and which opportunities might lie almost literally in my backyard. I’ll have to watch this more closely.

And in the meantime, mac & cheese… nomnomnom…

Finally! Now you now can find Android apps on the web

Last July, as I was preparing to ditch my iPhone for an Android phone, I complained on my CNN Tech mobile blog about how hard it was to find Android apps without an Android phone. There were some workarounds and third-party directories, but still it was much harder than it needed to be.

Why does this issue matter? Prospective Android users (especially people contemplating switching from another platform, like iPhone or BlackBerry) often want to know which apps are available on Android before they commit to that switch.

Today, Google finally corrected this oversight…

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Apple shows how to undermine its ecosystem for content apps

Earlier I wrote about how I thought it was a mistake for News Corp to invest so lavishly in The Daily, the first-ever iPad-only newspaper.

This morning, as I listened to the streaming audio of Rupert Murdoch’s official unveiling of this publication, I saw a headline that made me think Murdoch — and any content publisher or retailer — should be especially wary about depending too heavily for revenue delivered via iPhone or iPad apps. It was: Apple blocks Sony e-book app. Is Kindle next?

In a nutshell, Apple recently rejected Sony’s new e-reader app from its app store because it jumped users out of the app and into the browser to buy new e-books. This strategy skirts Apple’s considerable 30% cut of all in-app purchases, and it’s how Amazon has handled e-book sales for its popular Kindle iPhone and iPad apps since the beginning.

I did some research this, and it looks like Apple is sending some potentially destructive messages to the iOS app ecosystem they’ve worked so hard to create. So I wrote about this today in my CNN Tech mobile blog…

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“The Daily” iPad-only newspaper: Courageous risk or wishful thinking?

UPDATE FEB. 2: Apple rejected Sony’s new e-reader app from its app store — a move that makes Murdoch’s lavish investment in The Daily look even riskier…

On Wednesday morning, News Corp. will hold a press event to unveil the first-ever iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. The little that we know about this project raises some pretty big questions, and I suspect that after the announcement most of those questions will remain. Here’s what I’d like to know:

How can this possibly be worth such a massive up-front investment?… Continue reading

Why unlimited smartphone data plans will probably vanish

In my latest CNN Tech mobile blog post, I riffed on the recent mixed signals Verizon and AT&T have been sending about whether they would offer unlimited data plans for the iPhone. But unlimited data plans may not be around long for any smartphone (or tablet, or mifi device, etc.), simply because of the difficulty of managing a growing proliferation of data-hungry mobile devices on wireless broadband networks.

See: Unlimited data for the iPhone? Don’t bet on it long term

Just after I filed that story, I noticed a relevant Jan. 25 post by Kevin Fitchard on Connected Planet:

Will bill shock be the death of tiered data plans, or the other way around?

Some key exerpts… Continue reading

Exploding some common myths about the role of feature phones in the mobile media market

Yesterday I noted that on Poynter.org, Damon Kiesow picked up on my call for news organizations to pay more attention to feature phones in their mobile strategies.

See: News publishers need to reach the 74% of Americans on feature phones

But some of comments from journalists who read that story indicate some pretty common misunderstandings that people in the media business often have concerning feature phones.

I’m not faulting my colleagues for these misunderstandings. It’s understandable — they’re as drenched in smartphone/tablet hype as anyone who gets tech news. So I hope no one takes this post as disrespect.

However, since news orgs ostensibly have a mission to serve their entire communities (not just the people who can afford high-end mobile devices), and since advertising and similar revenue models generally work better when you reach more people., I thought I’d point out and clear up some of these feature phone fallacies…

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Regional news startup MinnPost turns first-ever profit

Over at the Knight Digital Media Center at USC site today, I wrote about how MinnPost reports first surplus, diverse revenue sources are key.

I thought it was especially interesting to read into their annual report. It’s a good example of how news startups, especially those with a geographic focus, need to explore several possible revenue streams. The good thing about the nonprofit model is, I think, it gives you more options to take in revenue.

Good job, MinnPost!